The global pandemic has claimed over 6.5 million lives, forming about 16% of the cases in America alone. Scientists study every aspect of the coronavirus to understand what led to this and what future pandemics may cause. Over 200,000 studies are available on the virus and coronavirus even though not even three years are over yet. If you compare this with influenza and measles, you will realize that scientists have researched COVID-19 four times and ten times more than both cases. Yet, certain things are still a secret, such as a virus mutation process, the reason behind deaths caused to some and leaving others unaffected, etc.
Scientists believe that digging deeper into these may help them find a proper solution to curb the spread of the contagious virus and safeguard everyone from the next mishap. So, let’s get into those territories that also bother the researchers.
The origin of the virus and its triumphant spread
There is a belief that the virus started in China’s Wuhan, but there is no clear evidence. However, some indicators, like an early virus spread from the market, are covered by two peer-reviewed studies in the summer. Still, they don’t cover critical details, such as whether the virus came from animals or which animals they were. The steps to identifying the process are also lacking. According to Rocky Mountain Laboratories’ Vincent Munster, scientists have discovered almost 20-30 similar viruses, but the hideout of the ancestor SARS-CoV-2 remains elusive to date. Also, some believe the possibility of the virus leaping from animals is far greater than escaping the Chinese lab.
If one supports the view that it came from the lab, the researchers suggest that they have to consider one of the two scenes. The virus was a natural occurrence, and scientists were studying it, and second, researchers created the virus in the lab for examination purposes, and it became deadly. No matter the source, experts inform that understanding the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is crucial to prepare better for upcoming pandemics. Hence, there is a need to drill into these aspects more profoundly.
The evolving virus and risk of new variants
MyBioSource study suggests that more than one in three people avoid discussing COVID-19 in social setups for fear of attracting arguments. But it should not prevent people from educating themselves about what’s happening on the horizon. After all, this may or may not be the end of pandemic woes. So, it pays to update one’s knowledge. Suppose you have been following the expert opinions. In that case, you will know that many had said that coronaviruses might have limited mutations as they need to multiply by mimicking each other. However, things soon turned when variants starting from alpha to omicron wreaked havoc.
Scripps Research Institute’s Eric Topol says that people suffering from immune system disorders can be the breeding grounds for these lethal viruses. So, the origin of omicron can be somewhere in those millions of people with a weak immune system. There is also an understanding that the virus will likely mutate to be able to escape immunity. It can be more transmissible but less severe.
Another primary concern is that COVID-19-infected animals can become the source of new variants, eventually affecting humans. One of the reports suggests that it has affected 29 mammals already. But the transmission of the virus from animals to humans has been rare. But if the virus infects other species, it can eventually mutate and affect humans badly.
The incidence of long COVID
According to CDC, one in five coronavirus patients in the US is facing the issue of long COVID. Symptoms vary from breathing problems to increased heart rate, to fever to fatigue, and more. Joint pain, dizziness, and lack of focus are also signs. The health experts wonder why this happens this way and what causes long COVID symptoms. One of the plausible theories is that the virus lurks inside the body even after the recovery. In that case, doctors may have to recommend antivirals to flush it out from the system. Then, some opine that blood clotting after the viral infection can affect the body parts. Another suggestion is that long COVID symptoms can result from the disturbed immune system, not the virus.
Long COVID requires deeper investigation, and the higher authorities have approved a budget of over USD$ 1.1 billion to examine all aspects of long-term effects and find treatments for the illness.
Nevertheless, the pandemic has revealed that the health care industry needs to strengthen and equip itself to combat diseases. Fortunately, younger kids were not too susceptible to the severity of the virus and its lethal effects. Infected people under age 20 form only 0.4% of the COVID-led deaths worldwide, as reported by UNICEF. Influenza has been rather harsh on younger kids aged five and less. So, there is some relief in this context.